Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Collaboration Generation

"This is the Collaboration Age. We can all connect instantly across time zones and oceans. Previously impossible partnerships now produce startling innovations. And the four walls of your classroom no longer limit your students' reach.

To thrive in this always-on community, students and teachers must become agile learners, creators, and collaborators." Edutopia, December 2008/January 2009

"Tools are allowing us not only to mine the wisdom and experiences of the more than one billion people now online but also to connect with them to further our understanding of the global experience and do good work together."

For inspiration, check out these links:

http://twentyfivedays.wordpress.com (an 11-year-old community volunteer's service projects blog)


or search for bloggers with common interests at:


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Do You Know About the Creative Commons License?

"Creative Commons licenses let content creators keep their copyrights, but offer some conditional rights to the world to use what they've created. All Creative Commons licenses include attribution, meaning anyone using that content must give credit to the original author of the work. Then licensees can add conditions--say, allowing people to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, but not to gain commercially, not to base other works on it, or, if derivative works are allowed, to require them to use an identical license." MacLife, January 2009

Educause's "7 Things You Should Know About Creative Commons"


Specifics about the licenses:

Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Photoshop Elements 7

I just attended a workshop on Photoshop Elements 7 and have to tell you that I'm excited about using this software! I've used Photoshop for years, but wanted to learn about this "consumer version" of Photoshop. This isn't just a stripped down version of Photoshop, folks! Most of the tools you would ever want are included and Adobe has added many enhancements, including a wonderful organizer for your images and photos. The editor is fantastic, with many quick tools for enhancing and stylizing your photos.

Photoshop Elements is available for faculty and staff departmental use via the U of M's UTools licensing program.

Free 30-day trial

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

EDUCAUSE Forum for the Future of Higher Education

EDUCAUSE and the Forum for the Future of Higher Education announced the launch of the Forum's new website. The Forum is a community of academic leaders and scholars from around the country who explore new thinking and ideas in higher education.



Thursday, November 6, 2008

Camtasia Relay for Recording Lectures - easy and inexpensive!


Camtasia Relay is something I learned about at the EDUCAUSE 08 conference last week in Orlando, Florida. Betsy Weber, who writes The Visual Lounge blog, wrote the following:

"Camtasia Relay is something I learned about at the EDUCAUSE 08 conference last week in Orlando, Florida. It is an easy and streamlined way for anyone to record lectures, presentations and meetings. As a presenter, you can walk into the room, select your profile settings and everything, from the recording to the formats the recording is produced into, to the location where you will publish your files, is predetermined. When you're done with your presentation, no need to hang out while your video produces or make technical decisions. You can just leave the room and a central server does all the work for you by automatically processing and publishing your video.

Top features include

* Easy recording on Mac or PC - Yep, you heard me right. Recording on the Mac or PC.

* Automatic processing and publishing handled by the server - Predetermined profile settings automate everything from the recording settings, to the formats the recording is produced into, to the destinations where produced files are published.

* Multiple file formats - Produce your recordings in Flash and iPod video (MP4), audio (MP3), Camtasia Studio (CAMREC), Windows Media (WMV), along with others... Plus, you will have the ability to produce one recording into any or all of the formats above.

So, are you wondering how Camtasia Relay differs from Camtasia Studio? Basically, Camtasia Studio is for individuals who typically edit their recordings and choose how to produce the video and where it should go. Camtasia Relay, on the other hand, is for teams and organizations to do recording. Typically the recording would not need to be edited (note: you can edit your Camtasia Relay content using Camtasia Studio), and production and publishing are handled automatically by a central server.

* Licensing: Affordable and flexible licensing - No monthly, annual or per-seat fees. "


It's coming....it's coming....iTunes U!


The University of Minnesota has created an access-restricted iTunes U site for students, faculty, staff, and guests. The access-restricted iTunes U site will provide University affiliates with access to audio and video recordings of campus

* course sessions,
* faculty lectures,
* interviews,
* music, and
* sports events.

These can be played on your computer, iPod, or other portable device.

The University is launching a public iTunes U site. The public iTunes U site will provide the University with a dedicated presence in iTunes, allowing a worldwide audience to view and download our digital academic content.

UMM will have its own section on the iTunes U page. Start getting your podcasts and vodcasts ready!

Check it out at:


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


What do you get when you toss together a bunch of CIOs, instructional designers, front-line technologists, faculty, and students? A darn good conference!

It's my 2nd day at the EDUCAUSE 2008 conference. I attended two half-day pre-conference workshops on Tuesday. My favorite of the two:

Teaching with Images: Tools and Resources

by Beth Harris, Assistant Professor, History of Art
Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY

Beth explained that there are some commercial solutions for image databases, but that none of them have been designed for use in teaching. Now, especially within the last 6 months, there are new Web 2.0 solutions for images. Some of these come very close to what she feels would be ideal for use in teaching.

Beth showed us ARTstor, Almagest, MDID, Luna, ProofHQ, NYPL Digital Gallery, Wikimedia, Flickr Commons, Flickr Groups (search feature), Panoramio, Jing, Skitch, VoiceThread ("the most fun thing in the entire Universe", says Beth), Cozimo, ConceptShare, Imagery, Thinkature, Cyclops, TagGalaxy, CoolIris (was Piclens), OScope Visual Search, Dipity, Fotki, Meadmap. Attendees mentioned new tools they've discovered: Adobe Acrobat 9 for its portfolio feature and its image and video commenting features; Google's gigapan, Equella Project, and PhotoSynth.
Great, great job, Beth!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Have you thought about offering online office hours?


Adobe Connect -- referred to as UMConnect at the U of M (formerly Macromedia Breeze) -- is a web conferencing and data collaboration tool. It provides you with a virtual meeting/classroom environment for sharing your presentations, images, and desktop applications with remote participants. You can also take advantage of features like a digital whiteboard, text chat, polling, and audio/video broadcasting. To attend your web meeting, your students need only a Web browser with the Flash plugin (almost all computers have this already) and a broadband Internet connection.

Here's a link to an informative and idea-generating video that was created at Purdue University. Faculty describe their use of Adobe Connect.

If you'd like to get started with UMConnect, please visit:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Enable New Forms of Communication and Engagement in the Classroom

By relying on the familiar ways students use communication tools on their own time, with their friends, faculty can engage students in the classroom. " Easily accessible and user-friendly, collaboration tools allow students to explore, share, engage, and connect with people and content in meaningful ways that help them learn." (Educause Learning Initiative, August 2008, "Collaboration Tools").


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Easily link to class materials and create announcements for your students


The new myUMM Faculty Technology Selector allows University of Minnesota teaching faculty to easily provide web links and class messages for their students. The links and messages will appear to students when they are viewing their myCourses tab in the myUMM portal. Below is a link to a simple instruction sheet for using the tool, and a link to a document containing screenshots of the tool.

Faculty Technology Selector Guide
Screen Shots

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Anti-plagiarism tool, SafeAssign, is now available for use


Not sure what you all will think about this new tool. Last time such a tool was discussed for use at UMM (the tool at the time was Turnitin), there was some degree of controversy. SafeAssign is a plagiarism detection service available to University of Minnesota instructors who have a WebVista version 4 course or development site.

There are two ways to submit student work to the SafeAssign service. The SafeAssign Assignment tool allows students to submit work themselves. The SafeAssign Direct Submit tool allows instructors to submit papers for evaluation on a case-by-case basis, without student involvement.

Student work submitted to SafeAssign tools are checked against databases that include:
* A comprehensive index of documents available for public access on the Internet
* A store of more than 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from the 1990s to the present, updated weekly
* Archives containing all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions (e.g. the University of Minnesota)
* The Global Reference Database which contains papers volunteered by students from client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism.

After student work is checked, both tools produce a report that shows matching sequences of words in the submitted assignment, any matching sources, and the percentage of matching words in the report.

See the U of M's website for SafeAssign: http://webvista.umn.edu/instructors/tools/safeassign.shtml
or view the
SafeAssign Online Orientation

The Power of Wikis in Higher Education

Have you thought about how wikis can be used to enhance learning? Stewart Mader has staked his career on the power of wikis. Mader first worked on wiki adoption in the IT department at Brown University and now is with his own company as a consultant. He says that in higher ed, there are really three ways he thinks a wiki can be useful: teaching, research, and administration.

Read more of the Campus Technology article at:


Check out the University of Minnesota's supported wiki tool, UMWiki, at http://wiki.umn.edu

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Moving Beyond Wikis and Blogs

Synchronous Collaboration Tools are revolutionizing traditional faculty office hours and allowing students to redefine teamwork in virtual space.

Chat room tools, such as those included in Moodle or WebVista, work amazingly well for online office hours and students meeting online to collaborate on a class project. More advanced tools, such as the U's (Adobe) UMConnect (formerly Macromedia Breeze) include additional features -- such as screen sharing and whiteboards. Students can work together online, at any time of the day or night in these virtual spaces. Faculty are seeing much-improved results in student projects because their students are enjoying the convenience of being able to connect with their fellow classmates online at just about any time. For more information, please see, "Taking the 'A' Out of Asynchronous" in the July 2008 issue of Campus Technology http://campustechnology.com/articles/64817/

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two-Week Technology Integration Workshop

Texas State University - San Marcos holds an annual two-week workshop for faculty. The faculty participants receive a $1,200 stipend. Across the country, a growing number of colleges and universities are offering similar programs and stipends designed to incent educators to embrace technology. The thinking behind most of these programs is simple: By offering educators an immediate motivation to embrace technology, colleges and universities hope to ensure that faculty will implement the latest and greatest technologies, and innovate with them, to bring new levels of learning to their students.

At Texas State, during the first week of the workshop, the educators attended seminars that covered instructional design concepts such as learner characteristics, course planning, types of learning, objectives, instructional strategies, assessment strategies, and media selection. During the second week, participants signed up for special-interest sessions related to learning, teaching, and technology.
At UMM, workshops have been held in the past, but incentives -- such as $1,200 stipends -- have not
been offered. Could UMM come up with a way to offer stipends to faculty participants in such a program?
See the entire article in the Campus Technology June 2008 Issue:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Are student laptops becoming a problem in your classrooms?


Law Professors Rule Laptops Out of Order in Class

This Chronicle of Higher Education article discusses the pros and cons of allowing students to use their laptops during class. Some say the students have even approved the improvement in class discussions once the laptops were banned. Others say that sometimes the discussion is enhanced by what the students have access to on their laptops. What do you think?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

University-Wide Anti-Plagiarism Tool


An announcement will be coming out soon from the U of M regarding U-wide licensing for SafeAssign -- an anti-plagiarism tool that is now included in the course management system, Blackboard/Vista.

See information about SafeAssign

Making Videos for Your Courses

Want to give your students a little bit further information about a concept? Maybe something you would like to tell them to help clarify a certain point? Some faculty are creating short video clips from their own office computer. Students are finding the videos helpful and tend to tune in to view them more than they tend to watch full captured lectures.

Find out more about this idea by reading the Chronicle of Higher Education article, "Film School: To Spice Up Course Work, Professors Make Their Own Videos."


Friday, April 25, 2008

Teaching on YouTube

Alexandra Juhasz, Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College, in Claremont, CA, taught an entire semester's class on YouTube. This piece consolidates lengthier blog entries about a course she ran on YouTube, called “Learning from YouTube,�? in Fall 2007. The whole goal was to better understand this new media/cultural phenomenon, and how it can be used in the classroom. How did she set up this class? And what did she learn? Find out at:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The End of Textbooks?

A new kind of eReader -- Amazon's Kindle -- is here. But is higher education ready for it? Kindle is a portable eReader that wirelessly downloads books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers to a crisp, high-resolution display. There is a waiting list of several months. Cost is $399 at Amazon.com.

When we talk about emerging technologies in higher ed, electronic textbooks has been a topic of discussion for a few years now. With the Kindle, a suite of interactive features makes this a tool beyond a simple book reader. Features include the ability to add notes, highlight text, and search, which makes the device ideal for college students. Rich media -- audio, video, animations, and 3D simulations -- are also possible on the Kindle.

Another huge advantage to students (and the rest of us), is that we don't have to haul around a backpack full of heavy textbooks! The Kindle weighs 10.3 ounces. Publishers will sell eBooks for far less than they would sell printed books, either used or new.

Excerpt from Campus Technology, April 2008 issue.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Clickers - Turning Point Student Response Systems

Clickers: Spring 2008 Update for TurningPoint Student Response Systems

TurningPoint Student Response Systems (SRS) are small handheld devices coupled with receiving hardware and presentation software. The system allows an instructor to present questions, usually via a computer projector, and collect student answers immediately during the lecture.

WebVista Powerlink is Live!

At long last the powerlink has been added to allow us to integrate clickers into WebVista. In addition to being an alternative way to get your students' clicker IDs into a class list on your laptop, WebVista will allow you to upload session files and give more immediate feedback to your students.

Version Confusion Prevention

* Be aware that the version of Microsoft Office you are using dictates which version of TurningPoint you will use and which receiver.
* If you use Office 2003, then you need TurningPoint 2006 (with 2008 drivers).
* If you use Office 2007, then you need TurningPoint 2008 and you also need a receiver with an updated license.
* If you are comfortable using the version of TurningPoint you have already used in previous semesters, then there is no reason to update.
* Please don't hesitate to contact me (x6376) if you need help sorting this out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wimba Voice Tools


I've been practicing with the Wimba Voice Tools plug-in for WebVista. Some of our foreign language faculty have begun using these voice tools, and I wanted to become more familiar with them myself. In my previous blog entry, I introduced Jing. I've used Jing to create a video to demonstrate how easy it is to add a Wimba Voice Discussion Board to a WebVista course.

Here is the URL to that demonstration video:




Have you tried Jing yet? Here's a link to my first try using Jing. This is a video of my screen as I am showing someone how to do the one-time setup for NetFiles.


Then I used Jing to do a screen capture of the dirtools or myaccount page, using the Jing tools to highlight areas of the page, the arrow to point to the specific link on the page that the user must click on to set up NetFiles. Here is the result:

Friday, February 8, 2008

Which Technologies Will Shape Education in 2008?

Mobile broadband, collaborative Web technologies, and mashups will all significantly impact education over the next five years, along with "grassroots" video, collective intelligence, and "social operating systems." This according to a new report released this week by the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative, the 2008 Horizon Report.

The report focuses on the six key technology areas that the researchers identified as likely to have a major impact on "the choices of learning-focused organizations within the next five years," broken down into the technologies that will have an impact in the near term, those that are in the early stages of adoption, and those that are a bit further out on the horizon.

2008 Horizon Report

In the near term--that is, in the timeframe of about a year or less--the technologies that will have a significant impact on education include grassroots video and collaborative Web technologies. Grassroots video is, simply, user-generated video created on inexpensive consumer electronics devices and edited and encoded using free or inexpensive consumer- or prosumer-grade NLEs. Internet-based services supporting the sharing of these videos have allowed institutions to mingle their content with consumer content and "will fuel rapid growth among learning-focused organizations who want their content to be where the viewers are," according to the report. The second near-term trend, collaborative Web technology, is already in wide use in education at all levels. The complete report (see link below) provides further details.
In the mid-term, mobile broadband and data mashups will make their mark on education. Mashups, according to the report, will largely impact the way education institutions represent information. "While most current examples are focused on the integration of maps with a variety of data," the report said, "it is not difficult to picture broad educational and scholarly applications for mashups." Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and the University of Minnesota are examples of higher education institutions using mashups for learning resources and other projects. Mobile broadband too is in the early stages of adoption for educational purposes, from project-based learning activities to virtual field trips.
Further down the road, according to the report, come "collective intelligence" and "social operating systems." Collective intelligence includes wikis and community tagging. A social operating system is "the essential ingredient of next generation social networking" and "will support whole new categories of applications that weave through the implicit connections and clues we leave everywhere as we go about our lives, and use them to organize our work and our thinking around the people we know," according to the report. The time to adoption for these last two will be four to five years, the report said.
Beyond these six technologies, the report also looks at the challenges facing education institutions and the trends--or "metatrends"--that have emerged in the five years since the first edition of the report was released. The complete 2008 report is freely available online via the link below.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Free Online Blogging Workshop

For a limited time, Atomic Learning is offering free access to their online Blogging Workshop.

A blog is a Web site that functions as a journal, or a diary, or a place to post your thoughts and opinions pertaining to a particular subject matter. In addition to text entries, a blog may contain pictures, video, and/or audio clips. This workshop will explain the difference between various kinds of blogs, introduce you to some hosting solutions, and show you how to setup your own blog using Blogger™.


Keep in mind, please, that the University of Minnesota hosts a fully supported, advertisement-free, blog site, and that you can set up your own blog for your department, your discipline, your class, or for yourself [or all of the above], FOR FREE.

To set up your own blog, go to: http://blog.lib.umn.edu and click on the link, "Start your own blog!"

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Making your lectures portable

Take a look at this. University of Washington, Classroom Support Services resource:


Video Screencasting for Teaching and Learning

Video Screencasting is different from traditional video recording. Screencasting conveys complex information and concepts by recording your digital presentation, a view of the room, and your voice. These three elements are combined into a web-based presentation that students can view after class.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Faculty Fears of Podcasting

Perhaps the biggest threat to podcasting is fear -- on the part of faculty who know about the technology, but haven't the foggiest notion how to use it. To confront and overcome this obstacle, some educators have developed podcasts geared for those of their colleagues who might not understand how podcasting works.

For example, there's Kathy Schrock, technology administrator at Nuaset Public Schools in Orleans, MA. Schrock's podcasts (http://www.nausetschools.org/podcasts.htm) include short interviews with teachers and administrators about such things as how they use technology in the classrooms.

For more on the fundamentals of creating and locating educational podcasts, visit:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Life in the Palaeozoic

Life in the Palaeozoic [pdf]


The Open University in Britain is well-known for its efforts to bring higher education to persons across the world. As of late, they have also been expanding their online offerings for the general public by making course materials available on their "OpenLearn" site. This particular course will take interested parties into the world of the Palaeozoic era. Through six different topical sections, visitors will learn about the Cambrian explosion, the origins of vertebrates, and life in the Silurian sea. Along the way, visitors will be presented with questions that will test their knowledge of the material. Visitors may also wish to post comments to the online forum and offer their own reviews of the material and course offerings.

Information provided by The Internet Scout Project: The Scout Report

Biology Resources

Biology Browser: Teaching Resources


Thomson Scientific has created this fine site in order to provide science educators with a wide array of activities that can be used in the classroom. Currently, the site features over 190 resources related to various areas of biology. Visitors can search through the resources by subject, geography, or organism. These resources include a primer on the antlion (also known as a doodlebug) and "Bugnet" which is an online forest entomology class. Visitors can also glance over a glossary of zoology terms and look over news from the world of taxonomy.

Information provided by The Internet Scout Project: The Scout Report

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Student Response Systems - "Clickers"

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Digital Media Center has standardized on a student response system. They have selected the Turning Point system. Turning Point has provided a plug-in for WebVista, so that student response cards can be associated directly with registered students in a course. The plug-in also enables in-class "clicker" quizzes and exams to be directly integrated in the WebVista gradebook.

An e-commerce site is being worked on, so that students will be able to purchase clickers via the UMART online store. RF (radio frequency) response cards will sell for $28. Faculty may purchase an RF receiver (USB receiver) for $99. Until the UMART site is set up for purchasing clickers and receivers, please contact Pam Gades at 589-6376 or via email pam@morris.umn.edu to make arrangements for your classes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Social Spaces, like Facebook

Social networking within Moodle or WebVista. How to connect to your students using the tools that they use. Create a facebook group for your course. Give it a shot. Your students will receive alerts when you add content to your group page in facebook.

Alumni and Career Services. Trying to get students to connect to the University for events. Those department staff can set up a group in facebook and students and alumni can join the group and receive alerts when events are announced.

Listen to the discussion (podcast) from Penn State:

Encouraging Faculty to Podcast

Podcasting is a simple and effective way to engage students in and out of the classroom.

- Podcasts can be used to provide feedback to students via a weekly podcast. This may be a weekly recap of the events from class.

- An instructor may wish to create usable versions of a weekly lecture so that the lecture can be automatically delivered to members of the class.

- An instructor may wish to charge students with the task of providing weekly status review in the form of an audio or video podcast.

iTunes Uhttp://www.apple.com/education/itunesu/

Getting started with Podcasting.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Go Green

How is it that Europeans manage to lead good lives, and yet only burn half as much energy per capita as Americans?

If you were designing a mass transit system for your area, how would it work? And, more importantly, how would you get people to actually trade in their cars for a ride on the bus?

If your campus was to reduce its carbon footprint, where would you start? With the lightbulb? With local food in the cafeteria? With turning down the thermostat in winter? With getting more students, staff, and faculty to walk or bike to school?

These are questions posed by Bill McKibben, the author of a dozen books on the environment, and the founder of Step It Up 2007.http://www.edutopia.org

edutopia magazine's October 2007 issue was all about "going green." You can see edutopia online at http://www.edutopia.org
See the go green database at: http://www.edutopia.org/go-green
This is a searchable database packed with online resources: links to lesson plans, green curricula, service learning opportunities, and innovative classroom projects. You can even filter your search by topic, grade level, cost, or location. These are primarily K-12 resources, but it is a great place to get some ideas.
How green is your classroom?
Start your semester with the "sustainable pencil challenge." Students must use the same refillable pen or pencil throughout the entire semester.
Save paper and ink: Encourage your students to use NetFiles to save their work. They can give you access to an individual document, or attach the document in email to you. They would not print anything and you would be able to comment and grade their assignments electronically and return the assignments to your students.
If you do need to write something down, or print something out, use recycled paper.
Be diligent about recycling or reusing as much as you can.
Your students can take paperless tests and quizzes on their computers, or via "clickers."
Shut down your computer at night, and over weekends and holidays.
See the 'Sustainability and U' site at http://www.uservices.umn.edu/sustainableU/resources.html
What can you do to go green?